Friday, August 25, 2006

Another year older (Gulp!)

I hope I don't have to pay royalties for doing this but...

*Ahem* Me me me me meeeee....

"Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday tooo me. Happy Birthday, Dear Andre. Happy Birthday to me."

Your boy just hit 27 today. Day-um! I'm getting closer and closer to the dreaded 3-0. Yikes.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I'm meeting with my doctor today so that he can assign me my very own walker...


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Restoration, part III

Lately, I've been calling into question the idea of relationships and whether or not they're worth restoring. But from an experience I had yesterday, I think I may have to recant some of my ideologies. Sometimes, relationships really are worth salvaging.

In an interesting turn of events, I was able to mend another pretty deep wound in my life. Again, it was with a person with whom I've been close since childhood. Our conversation started off on a pretty aloof note (rather than simply talking to one another, we sent each other short, emotionless emails). But piece by piece, we slowly began to open up to one another. Every email got a little friendlier. Every word was a little less cold and resentful. At one point, I even saw a smiley face. What later ensued was a phone conversation that lasted well into the early morning hours (in fact, if I'm a little sluggish with my writing, it probably has something to do with the 2 1/2 hours of sleep I got). We had a great time together. We joked, we laughed, we told each other freakishly scary stories that kept me up for at least another half hour after we got off the phone.

Simply put, we were chums again.

As with one friend, and then another, the two of us were able to put our anger and frustration for one another aside and try to get back to what made us friends in the first place. Though (just like with the other two instances) I'm not entirely sure that the circumstances which created our conflict will go away, I can at least be at some kind of peace knowing that I'm no longer in conflict with another friend. I think I can live with that.

In His famous and inspring beatitudes, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." If we want God to bless our lives, we have to learn to be peacemakers. Now, I don't think that Jesus was referring to the guys who jump in the middle of gunfight and try to break it up. Now, that's just ridiculous. Rather, I think He was talking about the people who follow an endless and tireless pursuit of creating peaceful environments with others. Sometimes I think that my anger, frustration, and disappointment causes me to miss that mark. But, every so often a simple apology or removing a cloud of anger and discontent can really make the universe a little less hostile.

Don't get me wrong: The Bible never tells us that we have to create perfect relationships with people. But, we should have at least make an attempt to build a positive and fruitful relationship with people...even if it's only within the context of our relationship with Christ.

I think it's safe to say that we've done that...


Friday, August 18, 2006

The inside joke explained...

I've been promising my best-est friend that I'd include a plug on my blog about one of our favorite video clips. Since I really don't have a lot of time to commit to heavy blog-like thinking today, I thought I'd just indulge you a bit with this clip:

In this particular skit from the highly controversial Chappelle's Show, as Chappelle and a bunch of other people are dancing in a nightclub, ?uestlove (pronounced "Questlove", the crazy sick drummer from The Roots) plays a 'new' song from the late Tupac Shakur. For any hip-hoppers out there, this is funny in and of itself, since Tupac has been dead since 1996. Yet he keeps releasing new albums. At any rate, Chappelle is impersonating Tupac with the same sound and intonation that became a signature of Tupac's.

The skits gets humorous when Tupac's song starts addressing people, issues, and things that are present-day, even though Tupac died almost a decade earlier. The song speaks to things like Bush winning the 2000 election, Blackberry phones, the popular video game Grand Theft Auto, and the conflict in Afghanistan. The skit gets even sillier when the lyrics address incidents that are going on right there in the club; a woman with stained and mismatched clothes, a guy bumping into the DJ's table, and Chappelle dancing with some woman who isn't his wife. But despite all of this song's current-day references, Tupac reminds the listener that he wrote this song "... '94".

This skit has quickly become one of my favorites and it explains some of the references that my friend has been making in some of my comment sections.

To get in on the inside joke, click here to view the video.

I'll be back with more meaningful stuff soon. In the meantime, have a great weekend.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Alone. Good or bad?

I think I'm in one of those moods today. Maybe it's because I had one of those weekends again.

I'm once again in one of those places where I can't seem to make any sense out of things. Most of the people in my life don't make sense to me. The things in my life don't make sense to me. God...even my life itself doesn't seem to make much sense these days. What do I want in life? What types of people do I want in life? If anyone has the answer to these questions, I'm all ears.

I spent the greater part of my weekend in isolation. But, unlike times where I deliberately avoid the world (i.e. if I really need to study or get some work done), this time I felt like my arms were outstretched, but nobody was reaching back. I mean, people were flaking me left and right. For a moment, I was almost convinced that I had some infectious disease that caused people to want to stay away. Fortunately, it wasn't a disease after all. It was just indigestion...

At any rate, I had a strange experience yesterday that can pretty much sum up my weekend and the subsequent "mood" that was created as a result. After church, rather than make a 28 mile round trip from church to home and back again, I decided to stay in the area to eat (which has become sort of norm for me lately). My mom was out of town and I have no idea where my old man was (they're divorced so I had two different places where I could've been. But, imagine the luck, they were both gone). So, with limited options, I went to a local restaurant instead. There, I enjoyed some great food, relaxed a bit, and even managed to get a little studying done in the process. But, as I should have predicted, other folks at my church had the same idea. I ran into three different groups of people from my church at this particular location. Invariably, they all asked me the same question: "Andre, what are you doing here by yourself?" I gave them all the same response, flashed the same polite smile, while thinking the same bad things about each of them in my head.

Normally, that would've been all to it. But, things took a strange turn when my waitress suggested the same thing. In a sort of flirty way, she said to me (not in the exact words, but you get the gist) "Every time you come here, you're by yourself. You're too nice and too handsome to always be alone". Normally, this would've been grounds for me to get her manager or -- at the very least -- cuss her out, especially when she doesn't know me well enough to make that kind of assessment. But instead, her comments (which were actually pretty innocent) made me ask myself how pathetic I was. If I'm so "nice and handsome" (as she put it), intelligent, kind-hearted, selfless, etc., then why am I sitting at a booth by myself? Why am I sitting here in isolation?

On the one hand, I tend to go back to my initial suggestion that I spend most my time alone to study, work, or just to chill during my "Me Time". But, on the other hand, I tend to think that some other things are at work here. Maybe it has to do with the fact that most of the relationships in my life, perhaps with the exception of my country-scattered family, are (for the most part) conditional. I'm friends with people if certain things are in order or when certain things happen. Perhaps this weekend, the conditions weren't favorable enough for me to do anything but to be a loner.

In another funny story, I went to a jazz festival later that night. Of course, I also flew solo on this one. No suprise there. What was funny was that a friend of mine from campus was there also. She came and sat with me. But it wasn't before she said "I'm glad I finally found somebody here that I know." Yes, she's a friend of mine. But, was she sitting with me because we were friends or was it because no one else she knew was there? Now, don't get me wrong: we had a great time together (I mean, how could you not have fun with a night of jazz?). But an annoying question kept reverberating in my head:

Are people friends with me just because or is it to satisty their own conditions?

I guess that's one I'll never know. In the meantime, I suppose that the bigger question for me is, given the conditional relationships I have in my life right now, is it good or bad to be alone?

Your thoughts?


Friday, August 11, 2006


I should really be more careful about what I post on my site.

Apparently, a couple of people noticed on my profile that I draw. They've been requesting to see some of my stuff. So, for your viewing pleasure, I've decided to post some of my artwork. I wanted to put it on Blogger, but I was having the hardest time. So I posted my stuff to Yahoo instead. Please feel free to check it by clicking here:

*Note* I've also linked this site on the right side of this page, under the Some of my favorite sites section.

Criticism is welcomed. But, in the words of Erykah Badu; I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my s***...



Sometimes I feel like the difficulties I face are pretty disheartening, and seemingly have no end in sight. I pray that God will perform a major, breakthrough in my life. I’m sure that we’ve all made that request once in a while. But, what happens when your hope and encouragement is met with disappointment time and time again?

Not too long ago, my best-test friend sent me some pictures of a trip she recently took. She is getting closer and closer to taking a huge step in her life; where her outcome is unknown. Nevertheless, I’m completely enamored by her determination. Likewise, my ultra-accomplished sisters have demonstrated -- time and time what happens when you continue to chase the things you want, remain faithful to God and never sell yourself short.

Each of their stories of perseverance remind me of the story of the lame man in Acts 3. This is a terrific story that helps to reenergize my faith in God's blessings, even when I can't always see them. According to scripture:

"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God."
- Acts 3:1-8

A few interesting things were discussed in this passage. This series of verses gives us insight on how to prepare for God's blessings:

(1) Get positioned to receive a blessing
By hanging out by a specific gate, the lame man was strategically setting himself up to receive a blessing. The gate called Beautiful was the largest and most visible gate to be found in the area. More importantly, it gave people access to the temple. The lame man used good, sound judgment by placing himself in the center of traffic. People who were on their way to worship would be sure to give him money; rather than ignoring him and being left to feel guilty about it during worship.

This begs an important question: are you adequately positioned to receive your blessing? Even if you don’t feel qualified for that certain position, did you apply anyway? You don’t think that your grades are high enough to get that certain scholarship. But did you complete that application anyway?

I think that sometimes we miss our blessings because we don't adequately positioned ourselves to receive them in the first place. Maybe we’re not being persistent enough. Or maybe we’re afraid to take a step into the unknown (I know that I'm guilty as hell on this one). But, one thing is for sure: receiving blessings often require us to be risk-takers. In the spirit of faith, we must be willing to try new things and take on new and unknown challenges. That said, put on your faith hat, turn on the tracking system, and see if you're in the right place.

(2) Look to God with expectancy
When the lame man noticed Peter and John passing him by, he asked them for money. I can just see it now: the moment that their eyes rested on his; even if only for a second, he noticed their intentions and met them with his expectancy. Although money wasn’t what he received, he was at least expecting something. If you think about it, this man essentially survived from the hustling he did. For him, begging and solicitation was a survival mechanism. How desperately do we seek to receive blessings?

It’s also interesting to note that the Bible makes no effort to mention this man’s name. One could suspect that he was considered relatively unimportant to those around him. On top of that, he’s lame and sick; essentially fortifying his unimportance. But rather than sitting around feeling sorry for himself, the Bible tells us that he made it a point to get carried to the gate every day. Every single day; every hour on the hour, this man was out there trying to take care of himself. This begs another question: how is your disposition regarding your current conditions? Are you spending your time wallowing around in pity because opportunities keep getting away from you? Or do you continue to hustle and bustle for your blessing?

A part of our problem, I think, is that we don’t always expect blessings. When we fail to expect blessings, aren’t we essentially short changing God? If He’s as great as we claim He is, and He’s delivered for us before, what makes you think that He can’t work with us now? How many times does God have to bless us in order for us to have radical faith in Him? I think that it’s important for us as believers to be injected with the expectation that God will work in our lives. Doing so gives Him more room to work.

(3) Recognize your blessing and accept it
Eventually, Peter charges the lame man to get up and walk. But, there's a little more to this that just getting up walking. Peter told the man to get up, walk, and keep walking. Peter’s intervention only got the ball in motion. It was up to the man to keep the blessing going. What good are God’s blessings if we just sit on them? When God blesses us, we should not stay in the frame of mind that we were once in. We must not continue looking at our situations through eyes of impossibility. Doing so can cloud the mind, and make us lose sight to waht God has or wants to do for us. Eventually, you may wind up back in the same difficult and hurtful place where you once were. But, looking to God with expectancy will nullify the impact of the circumstance we face. Then, once God works in our lives, we’ll be able to stand up – like the lame man – and receive what’s been coming to us.

Are you ready for God's blessings?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More news

Time for yet another installment of Andre's miscellaneous news. Sorry:

Terrorist Plot Twarted?
It's just been reported that a suspected terrorist plot was twarted by U.S. and British officials today. Accroding to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a group of terrorists (possibly linked to Al-Qaeda) were in the "final stages" of executing their plans to detonate explosives on several passenger planes headed to major US and UK cities. Immediately following the apprehension of 21 suspects, each country's governments raised their security alerts.

What's interesting is that the suspects who were apprehended weren't even at the airport. They were arrested in a British suburb. Apparently, the British Feds used a "covert counter-terrorist operation" to gather their 'intelligence'. Is this really what happened? Did the Brits really have sufficient evidence to suggest a terrorist plot? Or is this another lie used to garner more support on this so-called "war on terror"? Perhaps the bigger question for Americans is: will this give Dubya the green light to continue spying on people at will?

Civil War in Iraq?
Last week in Washington, DC, two top U.S. Generals were put on the record by stating that the continued violence in Iraq could soon catapult the country into a civil war. So while Israel and Hezbollah continue to bang heads, the quickly forgotten chaos in Iraq is also getting worse.

Your president has done a pretty good job of proving that he can't effectively run a campaign against 'terrorism' in Iraq, so I'm not liking the chances of instant resolution any other Middle Eastern conflicts. Geez. If only those idiotic Democrats did a good job of communicating Bush's failures in 2004. Sure Bush tried (and apparently succeeded) to suggest that he hadn't made any mistakes with this war. Now, at least, he kinda sorta said that he may have been a little off; maybe by a small, itty-bitty bit. If the Dems are smart (that's a joke), they'd capitalize on this to shift the Congressional balance of power. The change might pressure the Prez to come up with a more realistic tragedy for handling Iraq and preventing a civil war. But, apparently, that's too much to ask.

It's interesting to note that during the hearings, your boy Rummy pretty much just sat there...

More fighting in Lebanon
Speaking of the Israel/Hezebollah pay-per-view death match, it doesn't appear that the conflict is going to get better any time soon. As my esteemed blogger buddy pointed out, this thing has reached a point of critical mass. Lebanese civilians are getting killed. Israelis are dying by the loads. Hezebollah forces are getting annihilated. UN facilities are getting bombed. At least one Canadian, Fin, Austrian, and Chinese casualty has been recorded. Israel is even attacking the Red Cross.

Pretty soon, we might be calling this World War III.

Please, please, please, continue to pray for this conflict to end.

Arrested for doing good?
We’ve just hit a new low.

According to this article, the City Council of Las Vegas, Nevada just made it illegal to give food to homeless people in city parks. In a city that uses money as toilet paper, citizens can get arrested for feeding the homeless.

As insightful as I try to be, I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t have at least three different obscenities in it. So, I’ll leave it up to you to use your imagination to tell what I’m thinking right now…

House passes bill to raise minimum wage; Congress looks to cut more taxes
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to raise the minimum wage to $7.25/hr. In all liklihood, the bill won't pass on the Senate floor. If it doesn't, I can't say that I'd be suprised. Over the past few years, Republicans have made it clear that providing tax relief for the wealthy is the more important issue.

Interestingly, the GOP tried to connect the wage increase to a cut in incomes taxes, But, for you non-economists out there, this isn't something that we can afford to do, especially with this expensive a** war on our hands. Furthermore, unless I'm proven wrong: I haven't read anything to suggest that Congress will refund some of the educational tax cuts that are expired or close to expiring. In a time where tuition prices are shooting through the roof, Congress will continue deny tax relief for poor students. The GOP should be put on a political time-out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for raising minimum wage, especially given the rise in inflation. But, with all of this tax manipulation that Congress is doing, raising minimum wage is something that you and I can't afford. But, as long as those wealthy guys are being taken care of, everything is kosher, right?!

Scientist advocates culling
This is a pretty old story but it still amazes me. According to reports, a "top scientist" presented a speech at the Texas Academy of Science where he advocated the mass culling of 90% of the human population. This moron argues that the Ebola virus should be used to eliminate 90% of the world’s population since this so-called AIDS virus is not eliminating people fast enough. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story is that some of his colleagues and fellow 'academics' supported his ideas. He received a standing ovation.

This begs an important question. Will Dr. Death be one of the first to volunteer?

MTV show generates racial controversy
I just read that MTV is drawing criticism about a new cartoon it just released. The cartoon "Where My Dogs At"; about the misadventures of two stray dogs in Hollywood; generated controvery because a scene included bikini-clad women on all fours and leashed up while deficating on the floor (of course, that part was digitally distorted. It's a 'teenage appropriate' cartoon). This scene was done in parody to an actual video by "artist" Snoop Doggy Dog; who actually produced a video with several women wearing neck collars and chains.

Some prominent African-American leaders have spoken out, condemning the show. Usually, I'd be inclined to agree. But where's the outrage for the real bikini-clad women parading around like property in real hip hop videos?! I mean, that's all we see on stations like BET. Why aren't these protestors opposing that?!

Hypocrisy at its finest, I guess...

Bush gives himself more power
According to this article, King George just gave himself permission to give himself more power. The Presidential Empowerment Act, created by on White House stationery and immediately signed into law, gives Bush full authority to grant himself the power to increase his control over all three branches of the federal government.

*Note to my Bush-supporting readers* This story is only satire. I just wanted to throw in a little humor amongst the other ridiculous headlines. Please don’t send me any more hate mail…

I think that's it for now. But sadly, I wouldn't count on it...


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Spiritual intersections

Not too long ago, Aldo (one of my blog mates) wrote an interesting post about reaching a crossroad in his life. Though our issues aren't the same, I think that I've also reached an important crossroad in my life; a spiritual crossroad. You see, I'm slowly watching my church fade into oblivion; and I feel powerless to stop it.

Sometimes I can't tell whether our church is being led by the Divine or by divide.

We have a pastor who is so insecure that he spends more time validating himself by building structures than he does for building souls. We have deacons who have been bullied to the point they've essentially become mindless and useless. Our financial irresponsibilites appear to be catching up to us. We have choirs who are conflicting with one another. We have an organist who never comes to rehearsal, plays like crap on Sunday and still gets paid for it. We have one of the hardest working church staff on the planet; yet they are constantly overworked and underappreciated. Our once strong congregation (both in membership and -- I hate to say it -- income) has been reduced to a handful of devoted followers. For every new person who joins the fold, at least two stronger Christians leave (though sometimes I wonder how "strong" they really were to leave on such bad terms). Things are starting to look bad.

What happened to my church?

What happened to my home?

My best friend and I made a pact (in fact, I hope that she's reading this; just in case she needs to be reminded). We have made praying for our church a HIGH priority. In some sense, I've placed the concerns of my church in a higher regard than my own concerns. But, as I've mentioned before, prayer is most effective (I think) when it has an element of application involved with it as well. In other words, unless I plan on getting involved with the problem, my prayer is just a prayer.

But what happens when the problem gets so bad that I find it unbearable? My initial response was to turn it over to God. But, I don't believe that God actually changes a situation. Instead, He changes our hearts and our response to the situation. But that only happens when we want it to. Frankly, I just don't see that happening. Too many people -- my pastor included -- have become so complacent with how things are, that change is highly unlikely. It's getting pretty bad in the trenches.

Do I leave or do I stay? Do I challenge the system or do I assimilate into it? So many questions, so few answers. Worse yet, I can't seem to hear God speaking to me about this one.

I guess that all I can do at this point is to continue to pray. I'm asking you to do the same.



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Burning questions

For all you religious folks out there, I have few burning questions for you:

1) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is the neighbors. They claim the odor bothers them. Should I kill them?

2) For dads who would like to sell their daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), what do you think would be a fair asking price in today's economy?

3) I know that I can't come in contact with a woman while she's on her period. She's unclean. (Lev 15:19-28). The problem is: how do I tell her that?

4) Lev. 25:44 states that I can own slaves as long as they're purchased from neighboring countries. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. If he can own Mexicans, why can't I own Canadians? What's wrong with Canadians?

5) I know a guy whose job requires him to work on the Sundays. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Should I hang him, stab him, or stone him?

6) Since eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev 11:10), does that mean I'm going to Hell for eating shrimp scampi?

7) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I'm too short, injured, with a hutchback, poor vision, facial blemishes or jack up testicles. If I read this correctly, does that mean that only Brad Pitt can go to the altar?

8) I saw a sweet tattoo that I wanted to get. But Lev 19:28 explicitly tells me I can't. Should I do it anyway?

9) When I went to the barber shop last week, I saw a bunch of dudes getting their hair cut. Some of them were also getting their beards and moustaches trimmed up a bit. But, this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. That being said, how should I kill them?

10) Any person who acts like a psychic must be put to death (Lev 20:27). Should we kill Ms. Cleo (or did her career already beat us to it)?

11) I know that, according to Lev 11:6-8, touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean. Does that mean that anyone who has ever eaten Jimmy Dean is filthy?

12) I met a guy at our city's farmer's market selling tomatoes, corn, and potatoes that he grew on his farm. According to Lev 19:19; he's in violation since he's not allowed to plant more than one type of crop in the same field. I also noticed that he was wearing a shirt with a cotton/polyester blend. Do I really have to go through the trouble of stoning him? Wouldn't it be more fun to just burn him to death like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

If you can take a moment from your Bible-carrying, cross-wearing, sinner bashing, 'good ole family values' promoting, God Bless America singing, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou day to help me out on some of these, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!